The Christmas season
At one point in my life, Christmas was a one-day thing. It was December 25, and not counting a rare outlying appearance at church on Christmas Eve night, all festivities were confined to that day.
The sleeplessness of Christmas Eve night was heightened by the uncertainty of the next day, of what Santa would bring and, even after I had stopped believing, what my parents had cooked up for me. It was a celebration, like a birthday or the 4th of July.
Christmas was an event.
Since then, Christmas has shifted from one day to many, from a single holiday to an entire season.
It didn’t take much. Where there was once a flurry of activity, there is now a gently stretched period of merriment, from the weekend before to the weekend after. For me, it began when my parents got divorced, creating two distinctive Christmases, and expanded as I got married.
This year, Christmas began on the 20th, with my mother. It continues tomorrow morning with my father, and that evening with Kerrie’s family. Christmas morning is for us, just Kerrie and the kids and me and Kerrie’s parents. The gifts we spent so long planning and buying and creating and baking slowly leak out like an unused bike tire until, eventually, we look around and realize they’re all gone.
And, ironically, Christmas day – the day when all of the magic used to happen, the day I used to count down toward for weeks – has become a complete day of rest, shaking off the hustle and hunkering down for the rest of the holiday.